Top 5 social media highlights of 2016


Yep, everyone loves a good wrap up so we decided we'd have our say.  This is what Team Culture thinks are the top 5 highlights for 2016 in the world of Social media. 

Number one: Video - of course

In July 2016, Mark Zuckerberg said “we see a world that is video-first with video at the heart of all our apps and services”. This meant that video would be the centre piece of the all the tech giant’s apps and platforms from Facebook, to Instagram to Messenger to Oculus and more.

Facebook now sees more than 100m hours of video every day and this figure is always rising. But the craze doesn’t stop at just one form of video – Live video has also taken off on Facebook in areas ranging from consumer marketing to political activism.

VR and AR are other video forms that started 2016 as a trend and ended it as almost a norm. Google shipped 5m cardboard viewers. YouTube viewers watched in excess of 350k hours of VR content. Huge content publishers, such as Sky TV, Netflix, and Warner Bros launched their own VR offerings.

Oh, did we mention 360 video?

Number two: Ad Blockers

Ad blocker usage jumped 34% during 2016 (in the US alone) and ecosystems doubled down on their fast-loading articles. Facebook opened Instant Articles to all publishers and we said hello to Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Furthermore, Adblock Plus reported 100m global users.

This meant that banner advertising continued on its way of being an outdated communications tool that consumers are figuring out new ways to opt out of every day. This also paved the way for content marketing to be one the most effective ways to communicate with today’s audience who want to be talked too (not at).

More conversation – less advertising.

Number three: Twitter’s rough times continued

After recognising that it was time to sell, Twitter couldn’t find a buyer in 2016. Google, Apple and Salesforce, along with a rumoured bevy of other interested parties, took a pass. And the consideration of the deal reportedly revealed continuing divisions in the Twitter Board.

Vine, arguably where ultra-short video content and micro social networking all started, saw the axe in 2016, mainly due to its owner’s (Twitter) failure to monetise the platform and create a sustainable advertising revenue stream out of it.

Twitter’s focus on being a buzz starter and being where “live” events take place was hampered by the rise of Facebook Live and its huge success in 2016. This drove away yet another chunk of users to spend more time on Facebook and less on Twitter.

Get it together Twitter, we still love you.

Number four: Messaging and Chatbots

By late 2015 messaging apps had taken top social media platforms in the number of monthly active users, as more people reverted to one to one communications as opposed to the one to many model.

In 2016, Facebook Messenger reached 1bn users and the opportunity to monetise the platform was not missed yet again by Zuckerberg and co. The introduction of Chatbots and AI aided services on Facebook Messenger have become the key focus of early adopters from major advertisers around the world.

Today, with KLM Airlines, you can make a booking, exchange information about your flight, check in and more with a Facebook Messenger Chatbot powered by Artificial Intelligence.

By the end of 2016, there was an estimated 40,000 active Chatbots on Facebook Messenger globally running various operations from lead generation to customer service to sales and reservations, and more.

So next time you’re messaging a brand on Facebook, ask them if they’re a bot.

Number five: Days and Stories

Snapchat Stories have been around since the launch of the app, but in 2016, it was Instagram that stole the headlines with its launch of a similar functionality, to which they didn’t even bother to make up a new name. They called it Instagram Stories.

In a very similar fashion to the Snapchat version, Instagram Stories allows you to put together a series of photos and videos that make up your story for the day and remain available on the platform for 24 hours for your followers to see.

Towards the end of 2016, and unsurprisingly, Facebook Messenger followed suit with yet another identical feature. This time, they gave it a new name; Messenger Day.

The question is, how many platforms are people going to project their short lived stories every day? Guess we’ll find out in 2017.

So was this everything that happened in the world of social and digital in 2016? No chance! 

There were many more topics that topped the charts at one point or another such as Facebook’s metrics scandal, the fake news debate, social commerce, the drop of mobile app downloads, the social echo chambers, and of course, the Twitter troll who became the US president.

But we’re not here to list them all, we prefer to focus on the key facts and trends that create opportunities for you and your brand to thrive in this ever challenging space.


Mike Adly - Social Strategist @Culture - The Social Agency


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